I like that Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s minigames are kind of bad, actually
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I like that Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s minigames are kind of bad, actually

For the most part, I do generally like it when video games are good, a statement that I don’t think is particularly controversial. Good games equals a good time! What’s there to lose! But these days, I feel like there are a lot of “good” games, rather than good. Do you know what I mean? No, of course not, that’s nonsense, so let me explain. Let’s take a game like Marvel’s Spider-Man. It’s a “good” game, the quotation marks there because by all accounts, it’s competent in what it does, the swinging feels tight, and the combat can occasionally even be fun. The problem is that it feels a touch too polished – there’s nothing overly wrong with it, but there’s nothing exceptionally right either.

It didn’t push the boat out, it certainly hasn’t revolutionised open world games, but I can’t really complain about it either (except for the Spider-Cop stuff, that sucked). In turn, it feels like it’s increasingly rare for AAA games to be kinda bad in some ways. Last month, though, saw the arrival of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, a game that was received very well by critics and fans, but had plenty of people lambasting its mini-games despite all of that praise. And you know what? I kind of love that they suck.

I’ve written elsewhere about how I love a 7/10 game, titles that maybe kind of annoy you a bit but you find joy in them anyway. This isn’t me saying that Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is a 7/10, I’m not the one to make that call, but if we’re being honest, a lot of the mini-games are kind of jank. Both of the rail shooter segments, whether it’s just the one with Barrett firing his gun-hand off the back of your newly acquired monster truck, or the more literal one where Yuffie gets to throw her ninja star, do not feel good, and they’re even a bit silly.

The bit where Cloud has to ride a dolphin to mount a piece of machinery is equally goofy, and also controls like complete ass, and the piano rhythm game is so weird and hard to get used to, but when you do get the hang of it there’s a wonderful satisfaction to it. And while I do agree that I wish most of the minigames were a smoother experience, their “badness” feels oddly comforting to me in a weird, nostalgic kind of way.

Cover image for YouTube video5 reasons why Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth is Square’s best sequel

It’s definitely understandable that you might be less forgiving of modern games with jank controls compared to older ones, especially considering that through the benefit of hindsight many developers should in theory be able to make tighter games than they used to. I’m not even saying you should just let Square Enix off the hook for Rebirth’s minigames just because it’s Square Enix. But I appreciate how they remind me that I’m playing a video game, something that a lot of games seem to want to avoid these days.

There’s a friction in these minigames that turn what should be an almost effortless experience into a Sisyphean task, a point that could be described as immersion breaking. I don’t want to be constantly enveloped by a game’s world though; I’m a visitor, not a resident, and as strange as it might sound Rebirth’s bad minigames remind me of that fact. Yeah, sure, I might want to smash my controller occasionally, but maybe that’s also a good reminder to take a break. Rebirth is packed full of things to do, after all, and I’ve got laundry to hang up.

Part of me does wish that the Yakuza-fication of Final Fantasy 7 also resulted in the same level of polish for its minigames, but again, I’m just not interested in perfect games anymore. If video games are theme parks, I’d rather go on the slower-paced, annoying rides that have interactive elements over the coasters. Unless we’re talking about the dolphin riding minigame. I really didn’t enjoy that one.

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